"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Costs

The most important "costs" of Hurricane Sandy remain the costs in human life.   As of this morning, according to FoxNews, 55 people have lost their lives in the storm.   I wrote yesterday that, while tragic, these figures are actually relatively small, given that more than 120,000 Americans die every year in accidents.   Nevertheless, the dead and the injured and their families all deserve and need our prayers and help.

Estimates of the financial impact of Sandy are also coming in.   Again, from Fox:
Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted Tuesday the storm will end up causing about $20 billion in damage and $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business. Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated losses up to $15 billion.
But, again, let's put those figures in perspective.   If there is a total at the outside of $50 billion in damage and lost business (which is also a kind of damage), that's a lot, but when you think that last year the federal government ran a deficit of $1.1 trillion, the damage from Hurricane Sandy amounts to a little more than two weeks of federal borrowing.   And, of course, if you consider "damage" as simply the lost wealth of the nation as a whole, the federal deficit is a kind of "damage" too, because it theoretically represents liens that third parties (China, etc.) hold against our property.   So while Sandy is damaging, the federal deficit is much much more damaging.

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